Believe It or Not, Trying to Save Your Marriage Can Be Surprisingly Expensive

I generally steer clear of celebrity divorces, but …

Whether it’s really true or not, it’s almost a cliche that divorce can be expensive.

So what’s the less expensive alternative? Could it be …

Marriage counseling? You might want to rethink that.

Husband and Wife go into marriage counseling in an effort to save their marriage.

Somewhere along the way there appears to be a dispute between Husband and Wife and their Marriage Counselor.

Marriage Counselor claims they owe her more than $10,000.

And a civil court sides with Marriage Counselor, ordering Wife to pay up.

Wife is appealing the trial court’s ruling.

The worst of it is that all that therapy didn’t save Husband and Wife’s marriage.

They went on to divorce. Ultimately, $10,000 poorer.

Read more in this New York Daily News article: Kate Gosselin ordered to pay more than $10,000 to former marriage therapist.

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Don’t Overlook the Obvious: Basic Financial Tips for Divorce Revisited

A financial advisor briefly hits the financial highlights associated with divorce.

  • Know Thy Divorce Law. It is astonishing how very close too many people come to finalizing divorce settlements without having the slightest idea of what they may be entitled to. Often, they believe that their spouse has accurately summarized the law for them, and that their spouse is being very reasonable, even generous … when neither may be the case.

  • Property Division. In equitable distribution states like Florida, marital assets are divided equitably, often, but not necessarily, equally. Note that whether property is marital property or nonmarital in the eyes of the law may be more complex than the financial expert describes.

  • Retirement Assets Division. In equitable distribution states like Florida, the marital portion of retirement assets is divided equitably, often, but not necessarily, equally. Note that whether retirement assets are marital property or nonmarital in the eyes of the law may be more complex than the financial expert describes. Division of retirement assets is often particularly contentious. And may be especially complicated where there are pension plan administrators.

  • Debt Division. In equitable distribution states like Florida, marital debt is distributed equitably, often, but not necessarily, equally. Note that whether debt is classified as marital debt or nonmarital under Florida law is determined by different principles than this financial expert describes. This financial expert also does not address the distinction between potential liability to a creditor in civil court and potential liability to a spouse in divorce court. Further, whether a particular spouse should make paying down debt a priority really depends on the overall facts and circumstances of their divorce case and situation. One size does not fit all. And, freezing joint debt accounts may be prudent much earlier in the divorce process than suggested, whether through a court order or otherwise.

In Florida, technically, the term “equitable distribution” includes all of the assets and property division and debt division touched on above – and much more.

But it is often helpful and illustrative to break it down into its smaller components, even well beyond what this financial expert has done.

For many couples, however, the marital residence and retirement assets are by far the largest assets the couple have.

And very often, folks anticipating a divorce focus on division of assets, without giving a thought to debt.

Yet, unfortunately, in some cases, marital debt may exceed – or approach – the amount of marital assets. So the debt really must be considered early on and addressed squarely. Otherwise, a spouse, or their attorney, may spin their wheels fruitlessly – but expensively.

Read more in this US News – Money – Smarter Investor piece: 3 Ways Divorce Affects Your Finances.

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Diamonds May Last Forever, But Should Alimony and Spousal Support? Proposed Reform Legislation Takes Aim at Passe Lifetime Alimony Law

Husband and Wife marry in their early twenties.

Husband and Wife divorce … less than five years later.

The divorce court awards Wife what Massachusetts calls “lifetime” alimony of $65 per week.

Thirty years later, Husband is still paying Wife $65 each week. Which may not seem like such a burden in this day and age.

But Wife now seeks to modify her alimony award upward.

And the family court grants Wife’s request.

So, thirty years after their divorce, Husband must now pay his long ago Wife of under five years … $700 … per week.

And so it goes … in Massachusetts, where lifetime alimony is commonplace, even in short-term marriages. (Not so in Florida, unless there are unusual, special circumstances.)

Reformers have been targeting this alimony and spousal support law for several years, arguing that it does not fit modern values and expectations.

Proposed legislation would all but do away with “lifetime” alimony, limit the duration of all alimony based on the length of the marriage, end alimony at retirement age, and even impose a ceiling on the amount of alimony that can be court-ordered.

The proposed legislation also introduces different types of alimony, to address different possible particular needs of dependent spouses. For example, rehabilitative alimony for career training or retraining.

Whether the proposed changes in the alimony law are good or bad are, of course, subjective and depend upon whether one more closely identifies with a payor or a recipient.

Read more in this Albany [NY] Times Union article: Mass. considers ending ‘lifetime alimony’.

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Japan Appears Poised Finally to Sign Off on the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction

Foreign parents of children abducted to Japan by their Japanese parent haven’t ever had much to look forward to in terms of getting to see their children again.

That may be about to change though. Japan has announced that it is preparing to enter the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, and it is targeting acting by year’s end.

If so, it will be no minor accomplishment, because the stricken nation will, presumably, first have to overhaul its own domestic child custody laws to make them compatible with the Hague Convention.

Currently, Japanese laws recognize only sole custody awarded to one parent, and make no provision for visitation or timesharing by the parent who is not awarded sole custody.

And the Japanese courts are, by all accounts, biased against foreigners and fathers.

The US and European countries have been exerting increasing pressure on Japan to adopt the Hague Convention and modernize its domestic child custody laws.

Read more in this Australian news article: Japan to sign child abduction convention and this Houston Chronicle news article: Japan moves to join global child custody pact.

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Couple’s Spat Ends With Second and Third Degree Burns for Both and Criminal Assault Charge for Girlfriend

Thirty year old New York Girlfriend and fifty-nine year old Boyfriend are dating.

Boyfriend and Girlfriend have a spat.

So Girlfriend allegedly pours sulfuric acid on Boyfriend, also getting some on herself.

Boyfriend and Girlfriend both sustain second and third degree burns.

Girlfriend is arrested on charges of felony assault with intent to cause serious physical injury.

It is unknown what Boyfriend and Girlfriend’s spat was over.

Read more in this New York Daily News article: Geraldine McCoy, 30, ID’d as Brooklyn suspect in acid attack on boyfriend Henry Maurasse, 59.

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PostNuptial Agreements or PostNups: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

For those who missed the prenup boat, the postnup or postnuptial agreement is coming of age.

What’s a postnup? It’s basically a prenup, only executed after the wedding day.

Like a prenup, it can spell out what a couple wants to happen to assets acquired by either or both spouses during the marriage, as well as premarital or otherwise separate nonmarital assets of either spouse, in the event of their divorce or the death of either.

Why would a couple do a postnup?

Several possible reasons. As some examples:

  1. They didn’t do a prenup.

  2. They’ve had a change of heart and want to update or modify a prenup, in whole or in part.

  3. They’ve had a change of circumstances or assets and want to update or modify a prenup, in whole or in part.

  4. Their marriage feels less solid than it used to.

  5. New children or grandchildren enter the picture.

Actually, a postnup can also address child custody and/or support issues, but any provision as to those issues is subject to review and approval or modification by the family court.

In these uncertain times, postnups are gaining significant traction.

Couples who execute postnuptial agreements should take note that, because they are already married, family law holds them to what is called a fiduciary duty to each other, and requires that each spouse make full and fair disclosure of their financial picture to their spouse.

Read more in this Wall Street Journal article: Some Already Wed Couples Agree to Disagree.

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What Do You Mean It’s Time to Legalize Adultery? It’s Not Illegal. Is It?

Now that no-fault divorce law is the law of the land, the concept of adultery may strike some as irrelevant.

But not so fast. There is still the matter of child custody, and adultery could still potentially come into play there.

Oh, and then there’s criminal law. Although a lot of folks may not know it, adultery is illegal in some states. Yes, really.

Colorado is one of them. And Florida is another. And they have plenty of company in the US.

Are there a lot of prosecutions of this crime these days?

Well, that’s another story. But the criminal statutes are still on the books, available to be used.

Read more in this Wall Street Journal piece: Adultery Remains a (Legal) No-No in Colorado.

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Parental Alienation Still Comes Between Parents and Their Children

A Canadian city recently marked their Parental Alienation Day with a bubble-blowing event.

Parental Alienation Day was also recognized in Australia, Sweden, Germany and here in the US.

Parents, mainly fathers, expressed their sadness and trustration that they have no voice in the Canadian family courts, and are cut off from their children in divorce.

But the real message is that parental alienation hurts the children as much as the alienated parent.

Children miss out on a relationship with their parent. And tend not to do as well as a result.

The damage can be serious and lasting..

Read more in this Barrie [Canada] Examiner article: Bursting the bubble on parental alienation.

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Don’t Get Sick: You May Lose Custody of Your Children

North Carolina Husband and Wife have two Children, ages 5 and 11.

Wife is diagnosed with breast cancer.

Husband files for divorce, relocates far away from Children and then files for primary custody of Children.

Now Mother’s cancer has metastacized and she is at Stage 4.

The North Carolina family court modifies child custody of Children, awards primary custody ro Husband and orders that Children relocate to Illinois in mid-June.

Wife asserts that her disease is well-managed and does not interfere with her ability to parent Children. Wife also describes Husband as abusive.

However, based on the testimony of a forensic psychologist, the divorce court concludes that “children who have a parent with cancer need more contact with the non-ill parent”.

There is nothing to suggest that this statement is anything but the personal opinion of that forensic psychologist, unsupported by any scientific studies.

There is no indication that any other factors are considered in modifying custody.

This case has sparked hot debate, petitions and calls for the presiding judge’s dismissal from the bench.

Wife is considering appealing the ruling.

Read more in this Time magazine article: Should a Mother Lose Custody of Her Kids Because She Has Cancer?.

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The Internet Levels the Playing Field: Now Women Are Almost As Likely as Men to Be Stalkers

Statistically, women are far more likely to be victims of domestic violence, including stalking, than men are, and men are far more likely to be perpetrators of domestic violence than women are.

According to a study, only eight percent of victims of harassment are men. And women are seldom stalkers.

That’s on terra firma. But things may be changing in the internet era.

A study conducted in the UK concludes that over one-third of victims of stalking via the internet, known as cyber-stalking, are men … and their cyber-stalkers are all women.

The study suggests that women these days are having greater difficulty recovering from rejection … or that perhaps the internet makes it easier and safer for women to engage in stalking behaviors … with anonymity or the appearance of anonymity, or assumed personas and identities.

The study reports that women perpetrate stalking on the internet by leaving messages on victims’ social networking web pages and through e-mails, and by communicating with victims via phony accounts and identities.

Read more in this Times of India news article: Facebook encourages girls to stalk ex-boyfriends.

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